On Stage: Dukes of Destiny ready to rock Jamey’s

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Dukes of Destiny

The Dukes of Destiny are headlining a show at Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) and it’s a match made in blues heaven.

Jamey’s has become the area’s top showcase for regional and national blues acts – a destination for blues band’s tour schedule and a Mecca for area blues fans.

The Dukes of Destiny, who have been treating fans to live performances of top-flight blues and soul music for almost three decades, are back in action featuring a throwback lineup.

The previous lineup featured Arlyn Wolters (vocals), Ian Lander (guitar, vocals), Bob Holden (drums, vocals), Chicago Carl Snyder (keyboards, vocals), Rich Curtis (bass, vocals) and John Colgan-Davis (harmonica, vocals).

With the new lineup, Wolters is gone, and Joey Blaise has replaced Bob Holden on drums. The major change is the absence of Wolters.

“Arlyn is gone,” said Colgan-Davis during a phone interview Tuesday night from his home in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. “She had other projects she wanted to explore. “She is a wonderful singer and was with us for 19 years.”

On the band’s emails, Colgan-Davis wrote, “In 2003, the Dukes held an audition for lead singer, and we heard a singer who blew us away. A few weeks later she did two guest numbers with us at a gig at Ambler’s KC’s Alley, where she sang an Otis Rush song and an Aretha Franklin song. From that moment on, Ms. Arlyn Wolters was the lead singer of the Dukes of Destiny. She wowed audiences at clubs such at the Mermaid Inn, The World Cafe in Philly and in Wilmington, The Kennett Flash, Red, Hot and Blue, North by Northwest, and many more. Her performances at festivals in Chestnut Hill, Lancaster, West Chester, Phoenixville, and the Philly Folk Festival had people clapping, singing along, and screaming. Some of her best work in those settings can be seen on the Dukes You Tube videos.

Arlyn has been a major part of the Dukes for 19 years, and now she is moving on to other musical adventures and experiences. We are extremely grateful to have had her with us for all of those 19 years. She brought great joy and excitement to the band. We wish her continued musical success. Thank you, Ms. Arlyn, for your voice, your spirit, and your energy. We will miss you greatly.”

Colgan-Davis now has a dual role with the Dukes.

“Now that Arlyn is gone, I’m doing the majority of the singing,” said Colgan-Davis. “I was singing before Arlyn so now it’s back to the roots. Also, our guitarist Ian Lander is singing more now.”

Lander was the band’s previous major change back in 2019.

“Ian replaced our old guitarist AC Steel,” said Colgan-Davis. “He is quite a good guitarist – and quite a good singer. He’s a bit of a younger guy who has played around Philly with his own band. AC Steel left the Dukes because he also has his own band The Galvanizers and he wanted to concentrate on that.”

The new guy has added more depth and versatility to the Dukes of Destiny’s sound.

“Ian is into blues and rock – and a lot of different things,” said Colgan-Davis. “He has a different style than AC Steel. It’s been fun working with him.

“We’ve also added some new material – soul songs like Marvin Gaye—not just straight blues. We’ve also added some swing songs. We like to get people moving.”

With Wolters gone, the Dukes’ music has been altered slightly.

“Our repertoire has changed,” said Colgan-Davis. “I get to do songs that we haven’t done in a while like Slim Harpo’s ‘Got Love If You Want It.’ I get to sing slow blues.

“I love to sing those songs again – songs like Junior Wells’ ‘Messin’ with the Kid,’ and ‘Muddy Waters’ ‘She Moves Me.’ “I also get to sing two Howlin’ Wolf songs – ‘Evil’ and ‘Smokestack Lightnin’. We’re also doing some originals like ‘Black Man Blush.’ I love singing slow blues.”

In addition to performing at most of the clubs in the Tri-State area, the Dukes of Destiny have performed at the Pocono Blues Festival, the Waterfront Jam at Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing, the State Street Blues Stroll in Media, the Bucks County R’n’B Picnic, the New Jersey Folk Festival and the Longwood Gardens Summer Concert Series.

“For the past few years, we’ve had great years,” said Colgan-Davis back in 2019. “We played places we had never played before – like the Philadelphia Folk Festival. We also played places we really love like the Kennett Flash and the West Grove Friends Meeting.

“We played the Phoenixville Blues Festival and the Paoli Blues Festival. We really love playing the Kennett Flash. And, we love our Chester County crowd. They’ve been coming to see us play for 14-15 years.”

Chester County music fans and the Dukes of Destiny definitely have a love affair going.

“We did the Turks Head Festival in West Chester two years ago – and ‘Rhythm and Roots’ in Media,” said Colgan-Davis. “We love the Flash – the intimacy and the sound system. And, we love what it stands for and what it means to Kennett Square.

“We love the people of Chester County and I really like the landscape of the area. It’s always a special place for us. Chester County gigs have the vibe of old coffee houses. We put out the energy and the audience give sit back to us.”

Audiences that like to get out of their seats and dance are a big part of the Dukes of Destiny live experience.

“We get all kinds of dancers at our shows,” said Colgan-Davis. “We’ve been playing a lot more festivals. We’re back on the festival circuit. I love playing festivals for a couple reasons. You get a whole bunch of people playing together. That takes me back to the 60s and the be-ins back then.

“Sun Ra had said the message that music is the healing force of the universe and you feel that at festivals. And, kids get to hear real music played by real people. With a band like us that plays off the crowd, a festival show is a real exciting thing.”

When the pandemic hit, things screeched to a halt for the Dukes of Destiny. Finally, things are starting to spring back to life.

“We did shows in Delaware County in June, Philly in July, Swedesboro (NJ) in August and Chestnut Hill in September,” said Colgan-Davis. “The show this weekend at Jamey’s will be our first indoor show.

“I’m looking forward to being back at Jamey’s. I love the feel there – the vibe of the joint. Jamey has put together an incredible sound system. It’s a great place to listen to live music and to celebrate being a human alive.”

Colgan-Davis’s introduction to the blues came when he was in high school at Central High in Philadelphia and saw the Stones performing with Howling Wolf on the “Shindig” TV show. Howlin’ Wolf, whose real name was Chester Burnett, was an American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player who was one of the premier Chicago bluesmen.

“When I saw Howlin’ Wolf on that TV show, I jumped up and said — this is what I want to do,” said Colgan-Davis. “I started playing blues when I was 16. My dad gave me a grab bag for my birthday and a harmonica was in it.

“I started listening to blues records a lot — players like Muddy Waters and James Cotton. I was really into Chicago blues of the 1950s and 1960s when I started. Then, I got into guys like Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. One of the first bands I played in was a Philly blues band called Sweet Stavin’ Chain.”

A while later, the Dukes of Destiny became the main musical vehicle for Colgan-Davis. At first, they played house parties in Germantown, generating word of mouth interest. A gig at the now-defunct Taker’s Cafe in Germantown launched their public career

“The Dukes got together in the mid-1980s,” said Colgan-Davis. “Steve Brown started the band and it began with that gig at Taker’s Café. Steve died of pancreatic cancer in 2000 and I’ve been the leader ever since. Steve has always been in my mind. We did a tribute concert to him a few years ago and we still do some of his favorites in our set.

“We have a whole range of music in what we can play — everything from Chicago blues to old-school soul. What’s great about the Dukes is that we’re a band. We use each other’s strengths.”

Video link for the Dukes of Destiny – https://youtu.be/j5fM0sugB5w.

The show at the Jamey’s House of Music will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance and $36 at the door.

Another show at Jamey’s this weekend will feature The Jackson Taylor Band with Parjita opening on October 22.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

Philadelphia’s Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers are making their debut at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, uptownwestchester.org) on October 22.

One of the country’s premier contemporary Asian-American dance companies, described as “deeply spiritual” by Dance Magazine, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers celebrate the ability of dance to integrate body, spirit and mind.

Under the direction of Executive Artistic Director Kun-Yang Lin, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers weave together older pieces with relevant contemporary works that reflect around the social themes of climate change, gun violence and the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D) is a professional dance company located in Philadelphia. Hailed for its superbly trained dancers and inventive choreography, the internationally active KYL/D draws upon Eastern philosophies, contemplative practices and the movement arts. Artistic Director Lin’s zen-inspired practice of dance manifests in lush works of poetic sensibility that The New York Times says “create and inhabit worlds of their own.” Lin draws upon insights from his ongoing research throughout Asia and around the globe, creating a personal movement language that is suffused with strong spiritual underpinnings.

KYL/D has performed around the world, including at the Tanzmesse International Dance Festival (Dusseldorf), Busan International Dance Festival (Korea), Jogia International and AsiaTri festivals (Indonesia), Festival Internacional de Danza in Queretaro (Mexico), Victoria Theatre (Singapore), HsinChu Performing Arts Center (Taiwan).

In the U.S., KYL/D has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, Interlochen Festival, Columbia Festival, Kaatsbaan International Dance, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, Dancing in the Streets Festival, the Painted Bride Art Center, the Annenberg Center, the Kimmel Center, the Forrest Theater, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, and Philadelphia’s City Hall.

KYL/D has been supported by numerous funders including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the William Penn Foundation and a USArtists International grant from MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, as well as support from the U.S. Department of State.

The company’s performance at Uptown! will feature Chi, a piece inspired by the ancient art forms of tai chi and calligraphy, Santuario, described as “stunning and profoundly moving” by HuffPost, and a preview of the company’s latest work Fish & Girl.

The evening will culminate with a Q&A, allowing the audience and artists to exchange dialogue, questions, ideas, and connections made when viewing and performing the work.

Video link for Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers — https://youtu.be/QpTTpfE6r1c.

The show on October 22 will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 for adults and $27 for children (12 and under).

Other upcoming shows at Uptown! are Better Than Bacon on October 23, Dueling Pianos on October 28 and Cash Unchained on October 29.

On October 21, it will be time for another edition of Candlelight Comedy Club at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org).

The Legendary Wid

The show’s headliner will be nationally acclaimed comedian The Legendary Wid. The show will have two features – Coleman Green and John Kensil – with Justin Gonzalez as the emcee.

When you go to a show by The Legendary Wid, you need to prop yourself up for an evening of pun-ishment.

The Legendary Wid is the stage name of Michael Baldwin – a Philadelphia-based comedian who has established himself as one of the tp comics in America working in the prop comedy field.

Prop comedy is a comedy genre in which performers use conventional objects in humorous ways. The stages and films term “prop”, an abbreviation of “property,” refers to any object an actor handles in the course of a performance. Though some form of prop comedy has likely existed as long as there have been comedians, the genre reached its zenith in the vaudeville era.

A prop comic is a comedian who uses prop comedy and Baldwin uses it extremely well.

“I was born in Cranford, New Jersey and later moved to New Brunswick,” said Baldwin, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Philadelphia.

“I had an antiques store in New Brunswick and made jokes about items to the customers. After a while, I had a little routine that I did at ‘gong shows’ – they’re called ‘open mics’ now. I had always been a hoarder/collector, so I started as a prop comedian.

“I used to spend a lot of time at Englishtown Auction, a flea market in central New Jersey where I had a sales booth. The haggling was part of it. It made you a student of human nature.

“Some of the great prop comedians were Rip Taylor, Harpo Marx and Jonathan Winters. I got to do two Showtime specials with Jonathan Winters.

“I went my own way with props and puns. I have my own style. All my life, I’ve been a trash picker. I’m a big advocate for recycling.”

Since his humble beginnings in Cranford, The Legendary Wid has become the undisputed “Prince of Props and Puns.” He is also the subject of an award-winning documentary film entitled, “Wid” by Jason Ferraro and Brian Galla. From his sold out shows at New York’s The Bottom Line in the early 80’s to his frequent TV appearances ever since, The Legendary Wid has always been an audience favorite.

He has hosted TV shows such as VH-1’s Top 20 Countdown, Stand-Up Spotlight, Make Me Laugh, Comedy Central, HBO, Comedy On The Road, Caroline’s Comedy Hour, and 30 Seconds To Fame on FOX. Wid also appears on the best-selling DVD “Laughing Out Loud – America’s Funniest Comedians” along with Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres, Jeff Foxworthy, Ray Romano, Drew Carey and Jay Leno.

He’s opened for Robin Williams, worked with Jonathan Winters, and gotten high with rock legend Donovan. The Wid is respected nationwide among comic circles. More importantly, Wid has been giving back to the Philly comedic community for the past 30 years running amateur/open mic nights, teaching classes, and individually helping aspiring comics hone their craft.

“I also make ‘found object art’,” said Baldwin. “I’ve had shows at several venues including the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

“Another side project I have is singing in the The Roddenberries, a Star Trek tribute band. We’ve played at different Syar Trek conventions, including the 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas.”

The Roddenberries are the galaxy’s premiere Star Trekkified, multi-media sci-fi rock cabaret. Forged in Philadelphia in 2012 to boldly go where no Star Band has gone before, this nine-piece troupe is comprised of professional musicians, cabaret performers, film makers, dancers and educators, and is a unique spectacle to behold.

The band has also played at the Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium, the Penn Museum, the New York Comic Con, and the Philadelphia Wizard World/Comic Con, where it opened for George Takei’s documentary “To Be Takei.”

More than anything, Baldwin is a comedian – a clean comedian suitable for the entire family.

He is also a collector of all things who can make a pun for almost any item. Every Wid performance leaves the stage covered with hundreds of items many would consider junk or trash. Cleaning up after a Wid show is akin to what hotel housekeepers experienced after Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple checked out.

Video link for Legendary Wid–  https://youtu.be/FOysbzw61Io.

Coleman Green

Coleman Green is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer and producer of his own animation series. One of the fan favorites is Coleman’s portrayal of a pink pixel in the Optimum iO Pixels television commercial. Like most entertainers, his progress has been derailed by the pandemic shutdown.

“I haven’t really been working much,” said Green, during a recent phone interview while he was working out at an LA Fitness club in Philly. “I’m just starting to get back. I’ve only had a few shows.”

Green is a big dude. If you look at him, you’d probably think — he must have played football.

And you’d be right.

“I played football at Dobbins Vo-Tech in the Philadelphia Public League,” said Green. “I was a guard and a linebacker. Then, I played football at Morgan State University. After that, I played semi-pro ball in Canada for a few years. But I’ve always lived in Philly.”

Green’s life path took him from the gridiron to stages in comedy clubs around America.

“I got into comedy the same way a lot of stand-up guts do,” said Green, who now lives in Northeast Philadelphia.

“People kept telling me that I was funny and should do stand up. So, I decided to give it a try. I took a comedy class and now I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

“I started with open mics – the rough gigs. Then, I was doing gigs as a host. I was hosting at different places. I got my first headline gig at the Comedy Cabaret in Northeast Philadelphia.

“The Comedy Cabaret kept me onstage almost every week. I went from host to feature to headliner in a year.

“I played a lot of gigs. I was pretty good as a host. You get a 10–15-minute set as a host and 25-30 minutes as a feature. Headliner is 45-60. I built my set from 25 minutes to headline pretty easy.”

Green’s comedy is very relatable.

“It’s people observations,” said Green. “I talk about family. Basically, I talk about my life. I also bring the audience in and talk with them a little bit.

“My show is a combination of regular routines and improv. I try to regularly add two or three new jokes and replace others. But I still use some of the same jokes from when I started.”

Video link for Coleman Green – https://youtu.be/IP0hW-ff1SY.

John Kensil began his comedy career as a joke writer for radio personalities, then wrote for Jay Leno and Joan Rivers. He had been entertaining audiences with his aptly titled “John Kensil Show”, a sarcastic takeoff on the old Dean Martin show, with Kensil as host and a cast of offbeat character comedians dropping in.

Kensil entered the standup comedy arena while attending Temple University. Everything he talks about in his act is based in reality.

Kensil has performed in the Boston Comedy Festival and the Las Vegas Comedy Festival. He has written for the Tonight Show, and his work has appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. Kensil has worked in New York at Carolines, Stand Up New York, Gotham, New York Comedy Club, The Comic Strip, Rascals, Stress Factory; Los Angeles at The Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, Ice House; in Philadelphia at Comedy Cabaret, Laugh House, and Comedy Works; and at colleges across the US.

Philadelphia native Justin Gonzalez began performing professionally at the age of 11 as an internationally touring choral musician, classical soloist, award winning operatic singer, ukele player, pop singer, musical theater lead, stand-up comedian, and magician.

Gonzalez is an independent musician based in Philadelphia who travels throughout the tri-state area and beyond. Justin performs a mix of classical, big band, Broadway, and operatic repertoire. Most recently he added a new genre when he began as lead vocalist for “33 1/3 LIVE’s Killer Queen Experience”.

The show at the Candlelight Theater will start at 7:30 p.m. on October 21. Tickets, which are $30, include complimentary light fare and free parking.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will have The Numbers on October 22.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present Perpetual Groove on October 21, Broken Arrow on October 22, Los Amigos Invisibles on October 23, Dumpstaphunk on October 24 and The Accidentals on October 26.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) will present Asleep at the Wheel on October 21 and The Hooters on October 22 and 23.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will host BeauSoleil on October 21, Ginger Billy on October 22, Ricky Skaggs on October 23, Jeff Allen on October 24 and Tab Benoit on October 26.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes on October 21, Post Modern Jukebox on October 23 and The Temptations on October 27.

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